CVU Winter Sports Preview

Photos by Al Frey
Girls basketball hopes to go the distance this year with a strong defense to shore up their game.

By LAUREN READ

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Coach: Ute Otley (eighth season)
Last season: 21-3
Lost in the Division I state championship.
Key returnees: Harper Mead, guard, senior; Meghan Gilwee, guard/forward, senior; Kaylee Beyor, forward, senior; Nicole Eaton, guard, senior; Makenna Boyd, guard, junior; Maryn Askew, guard, junior; Catherine Gilwee, guard, sophomore.
Key newcomers: Too early to tell
Outlook: For most teams in the state a 21-3 record and berth in the D-I final would signify a great year. Not for the Champlain Valley Union girls basketball team. For a team that had won five straight titles, the loss to St. Johnsbury last year was a disappointment. “There’s definitely a sense for the girls who are returning that they don’t care to be remembered as the girls who the streak ended for,” Coach Otley said. “They are pretty motivated.”
The Redhawks lost a few key players but still will return a good chunk of last year’s roster. Otley said she is excited to see what adding new pieces into the lineup will mean for her very motivated squad. “Our defensive tenacity is higher than it has been in the recent past,” Otley said. “I like a team that gets after it on defense.”
Opener: 3 p.m. Friday vs. Lyndon at the Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament at CVU.


The boys basketball roster has many returning players and some strong newcomers fresh from fall volleyball.

BOYS BASKETBALL
Coach: Michael Osborne (sixth season)
Last season: 13-7
Lost in the Division I quarterfinals.
Key returnees: Nikos Carroll, point guard, senior; Jason West, point guard, senior; Cole Otley, forward/guard, senior; Mason Otley, forward/guard, senior; Bennett Cheer, forward, senior; Noan Martin, guard, senior; Ethan Harvey, guard, senior; Noah Allen, forward, junior.
Key newcomers: Prince Yodishembo, guard/forward, senior; Alden Randall, forward/guard, junior; Jacob Boliba, guard, junior; Baker Angstman, point guard, junior; Rowan Williams, forward, junior; Devin Rogers, forward, sophomore.
Outlook: The season last year did not end on a high note. The Redhawks gave up a 13-point lead in the final five minutes of the D-I quarterfinals and missed out on their chance to advance to the semifinals. This year, CVU returns a much of that roster and they are motivated to make up for that loss. “We should be deep, balanced, good overall size, length and quickness,” Coach Osborne said. “Our defense and ball movement, again, hope to be our calling card.” CVU has also added some members of the state title-winning volleyball team, giving them size and strength under the basket.
Opener: Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament at CVU Friday at 4:45 p.m. vs Lyndon.


Girls hockey strikes out on its own this year, ending its combination team with Mount Mansfield Union but still including some MMU players under a cooperation agreement.

GIRLS HOCKEY
Coach: Scott Bushweller (first season)
Last season: 6-13-1
Lost in the Division I quarterfinals
Key returnees: Nicole Wright, center, junior; Kiley McClure, wing, junior; Kayleigh Bushweller, wing, junior; Emma Rashford, goalie, junior; Caroline Reynolds, defense, senior; Flynn Hall, defense, junior; Brianna Brosseau, defense, senior; Alicia Veronneau, defense, sophomore; Katherine Veronneau, wing, sophomore; Amelia Chicoine, wing, senior.
Key newcomers: Payton Skillen, defense/center, senior; Anna West, winger, freshman; Sabrina Brochu, wing/center, freshman.
Outlook: It will be a year of transition for the CVU girls hockey team. After a few years a co-op with Mount Mansfield Union High School, CVU returns to its own program (with four MMU players joining the group in a member-to-member agreement). The team also welcomes a whole new coaching staff as they look to compete in Division II. The Redhawks lost a lot of scoring and the starting goalkeeper from last year’s squad and will have to replace those important positions. “I am curious to see what is going to happen this year, in a good way,” first-year coach Bushweller said. “There are some really good players on the team.”
Opener: Saturday at Harwood/Northfield at 5 p.m.


Boys hockey has an infusion of new players this season with returning seniors to show them the ropes. Pre-season included a scrimmage against Burlington High School.

BOYS HOCKEY
Coach: J.P. Benoit (second season)
Last season: 8-11
Lost in the Division I quarterfinals.
Key returnees: Charlie Averill, forward, senior; Jake Schaefer, forward, senior; Logan Cody, goalie, senior; James Bernicke, forward, junior; Nick Lyman, defense, senior; Ben Ross, defense, senior.
Key newcomers: Ryan Canty, forward, freshman; Angelos Carroll, forward, freshman; Shane Gorman, forward, sophomore; Owen Pierce, defense, freshman; Ty Dousevicz, goalie, freshman.
Outlook: A solid returning core of seniors will be key to the CVU boys hockey team meeting this year’s lofty goals. In addition to being relied on for a bulk of the scoring, players such as Averill, Schaefer and Bernicke will have to help bring new additions into the fold. “We have 10 new players to teach the systems to,” second-year coach J.P. Benoit said. “Our senior leadership has been amazing at making the new guys feel welcome.” The Redhawks return players at the key positions, especially in goal and on defense, which will be important as they look to qualify for a spot at Gutterson Fieldhouse at the end of the season.
Opener: Friday at Lower Canada High School


CVU gymnasts will see if they can keep the state title away from Essex for another year.

GYMNASTICS
Coach: Madison Bourdeau (fourth season)
Last season: State champions
Key returnees: Laurynn Bombardier, junior; Alix St. Hilaire, junior; Delaney Miller-Bottoms, sophomore; Macy Lagrow, sophomore.
Key newcomers: Taylor Hoar, junior; Logan Claffy, freshman.
Outlook: Last year, CVU pulled off what many thought was impossible and dethroned 12-time defending champions Essex to win the state title. This season, the Redhawks look to repeat. The Redhawks will have to do that without Kam and Jam Giubardo, who graduated, but did return Laurynn Bombardier, who was the top finisher on the vault in the final competition. “We have strong leadership coming from the upperclassmen to help the team improve,” Bourdeau said. “We offer a wide variety of talent that cover all four events.”

Opener: Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Randolph


CVU wrestlers got off to a good start at the Northern Adirondack Invitational last weekend. Seniors Justin Bissonette and Jared Forsythe dominated their weight classes at 170 lb. and 182 lb. respectively. With several third, fourth, and runner-up placings, the team finished tied for fourth place overall. “This year’s team has desire and motivation,” Coach Gunnar Olson said.

WRESTLING
Coach: Gunnar Olson
Last season: Sixth in the Vermont state championships
Key returnees: Wyatt Sanderson, senior; Sebastian D’Amico, sophomore
Key newcomer: Sean Trifaro, freshman
Outlook: Coach Gunnar Olson returns to the head coaching position for the CVU wrestling team, looking to get the wrestlers ready for the state championship tournament. The Redhawks did lose Justin Bissonette, who had the top finish for an individual last year. But they will rely on returning wrestlers Wyatt Sanderson and Sebastian D’Amico to send the tone for this year’s group. “Whatever they earn will be paid for in sweat and team and it’s going to mean a lot to them,” Olson said. “The results will show when they reach their peak performance in February.”
Up next: Londonderry (N.H.) Holiday Tournament on Saturday


ALPINE SKIING
Coach: Mike Minnerly (16th season)
Last season: Both boys and girls finished second in the Division I state championships.
Key returnees
Boys: Seth Boffa, sophomore; Sean Gilliam, sophomore; Ethan Lisle, sophomore.
Girls: Olivia Zubarik, sophomore; Claire Smith, senior; Emma McMahan, senior; Binney Patton, junior; Emily Marvin, junior.
Key newcomers: Too early to tell
Outlook: Led by great individual efforts from Becca Provost – who won the girls individual state title in slalom – and Briggs Francis – third in the slalom – CVU finished in second place on both the boys and girls sides. This year, the Redhawks will have to replace that talent and meet the high expectations set last year. “I think they are a young, confident group,” Minnerly said. “They are not over-excited, they manage to stay calm. They are not overwhelmed by the moment.” Minnerly said it is still too early to tell who of the new skiers will make an impact but expects that someone will step up to help the experienced returners. “As a team, we will be strong,” Minnerly said. “We have good, solid skiers.”
Opener: Monday at Burke


NORDIC SKIING
Coach: Sarah Strack (24th season)
Last season: Both boys and girls finished fourth in the Division I state championship races.
Key returnees
Boys: Jared Leonard, senior; Jonathan McAuliffe, senior; Gus Lunde, junior; Aaron McNally, junior; Skyler Heininger, sophomore.
Girls: Hannah Bohmann, senior; Geneva Cote, senior; Mullein Francis, senior; Emma Hawko, senior; Talia Loiter, senior; Lila Carelton, junior; Sadie Holmes, junior; Aidan Palmer, junior; Emma Strack, junior; Kate Zoller, junior.
Key newcomers
Boys: Nani Campbell, junior; Sam Holmes, freshman; Benjamin McAuliffe, freshman.
Girls: Isabel Mittelstadt, junior; Finnegan Mittelstadt, freshman; Chloe Silverman, freshman.
Outlook: On the boys side, the CVU Nordic team is in a bit of a rebuild, said longtime coach Sarah Strack. But a strong group of new skiers should help move that along quickly. On the girls side, all of the Redhawks from last season are returning and the group has added a trio of talented newcomers to help CVU improve on last year’s fourth place finish.
Opener: Saturday at Middlebury

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